Hispanic Heritage Month: Recognizing the Difference Makers

Hispanic Heritage Month takes place from Sept. 15 through Oct. 15 this year. We celebrate Hispanic Heritage Month to recognize the achievements and contributions of Hispanic American champions who have inspired others to achieve success. Marcos, Karime, and Faatima embody this spirit and are moving the Madison and Dane County forward at their respective organizations (Centro Hispano and Agrace) in helping Hispanic Americans and their families. Thanks for everything you do!



Faatima Khan, Diversity, Equity and Inclusion ManagerAgrace

What is your role at Agrace and how do you make a difference in the Hispanic community?
I serve as the Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Manager at Agrace. Through this work, I identify, discuss, and challenge issues of inequity and the impacts they have on the organization, systems, and its people so that together, we can create social change. 

We know that in Wisconsin, the Hispanic community is the fastest growing racial and ethnic population, and the second largest population Agrace serves. As we continue to grow, it is imperative that we work to identify the needs of this community and meet people where they’re at. 

Agrace serves a population that is aging, ill or dying, and we are often seen as the experts in end-of-life care. However, in my role, it is important to discuss just how complex conversations around death can be. What is seen in American or western culture in terms of a dignified death means something quite different for another culture or community. Thus, I lead with humility and an understanding that the communities we serve are the experts in their own culture and we are simply there to support their decisions by consistently offering high-quality care. 

I also have the privilege of partnering with like-minded folks, like those on the Latino Health Council or Centro Hispano, to address health disparities, reach all members of our community, and work towards an equitable healthcare system for all. 


Why do you do what you do?

I do what I do because I’d like to achieve a just and equitable healthcare system. Unfortunately, our racially and ethnically diverse communities in this country face barriers to high-quality, affordable, and timely care –a service that should be accessible to all and delivered in a respectful and culturally competent manner. I do what I do because I’d like to see systemic change. That’s the change that impacts lives for generations to come. 


What are you most proud of professionally in helping the communities you serve?
I’m proud, or rather privileged, to work alongside incredible leaders within the community. In my work at Centro Hispano I developed teaching and training programs for ESL adults. At United Way I fought for the education, financial stability and health of everyone in Dane County. And in my current role at Agrace, I’m able to take what I’ve learned, build upon my community connections and create systemic change to address health disparities for underrepresented communities. My proudest moments are when a staff member, client, patient, or community member reaches out and shares that I’ve opened their eyes to a different perspective or that I’ve created an opportunity for them which they never believed they’d have in this country. To me, that’s impact.       


How can we in the Madison community honor Hispanic Heritage month and be a willing helper in our diverse community?

If we’d like to better understand the Hispanic community, we need to listen and lift them up. Not only that, but we need to do so every month of the year. 




Marcos Lozano, Development AssistantCentro Hispano

 What is your role at Centro Hispano and how do you make a difference in the Hispanic community?

I'm the Development Assistant and I support the development team. As part of the team we’ve been able to grow Centro’s capacity and build up our budget and programs. I think I'm making a difference by taking action in being part of Centro and helping primarily Hispanic families, continuing its work from over the last 30 years. I am proud to be a part of the community as opposed to being on the outside looking in. It has given me a chance to develop and improve on skills I’ve already acquired in order to help in the Madison community.


Why do you do what you do?

I am doing what I am doing because I wanted to challenge myself in ways that I haven’t explored yet. Seven years ago, I was offered the chance to volunteer here at Centro Hispano and then later a chance to challenge myself in the development area, as part of the staff. It has been challenging to learn more about the culture of philanthropy, and I like to do it. I wanted to use my experience as a bilingual interpreter to help the mission of Centro Hispano. That’s why I decided to do this.


What are you most proud of professionally in helping the communities you serve?

What I’m most proud of seeing how the agency (Centro) has grown since I have joined the team. I love the synergy of the team, and how together, we’ve grown the budget, programs and presence of Centro throughout the community.


How can we in the Madison community honor Hispanic Heritage month and be a willing helper in our diverse community?

The way we can honor the Spanish community is by changing the narrative of how we do fundraise for Latino and Hispanic populations in the state. By practicing community centered fundraising, we can make a difference in the lives of those in philanthropy along with the lives of families in the community. Instead of just asking for financial support, we also want them to be engaged with the community in order to connect and be a part of it. By changing that narrative from just giving financially to how can I help families throughout my community by being involved and becoming more engaged is rewarding. Recognizing the needs for the Latino community and working alongside them to make a difference is meaningful and important.


Anything else to add?

I would like to add that I am looking forward to becoming a certified fundraiser for AFP to try and make the changes we want to see in philanthropy from now and into the future. A big thanks to AFP for the work they do and for embracing Centro Hispano and other community organizations.




Karime Perez, Partnership and Engagement SpecialistCentro Hispano

 What is your role at Centro Hispano and how do you make a difference in the Hispanic community? 

I am the Partnership and Engagement Specialist at Centro Hispano that is part of the Development team. I really enjoy my job, and my team makes me feel proud and motivated. 

My role is focused on agency partners (AP). I build bridges to connect these companies that support Centro’s activities. I manage volunteers’ activities for AP and other engagement opportunities.  I also coordinate community events: Tres Reyes Celebration and Evening of Dreaming. 


Why do you do what you do? 

I believe in Centro’s mission, which is to support families and strengthen the community. I am inspired by the highly motivated and energetic people who are part of Centro and bring this mission to life.  


What are you most proud of professionally in helping the communities you serve? 

I’m most proud of the connection we’ve established between our AP and the community. It is rewarding to be the link that connects and guides families to help them fulfill their aspirations. 


We are working to make this change in our community. It’s an ongoing process where families receive the support they need and then in turn become supportive to others. 


How can we in the Madison community honor Hispanic Heritage month and be a willing helper in our diverse community? 

I would invite the community in Madison to be part of an online Latino cultural event to learn more about our Latin American roots and history. I believe others would see similarities to their own cultures. 

It would be helpful to recognize and promote Centro so that people in the community are made aware of what it has to offer. More bilingual resources should be made available throughout the community, including educational resources explaining how to interact with others from different cultures.